Malaga, Spain April 11,2017

With a very early start, Malaga, Spain, proved to be a most interesting day. Our choice for the port included a Holland America tour to the Gibralfalo Castle, a Moorish fortress overlooking the city, and the cathedral built between the 15th and 17th centuries, and a secondary Cruise Critic tapas tour engineered by Nick, a fellow passenger from Alaska.

Malaga itself is believed to be the oldest city in western Europe, probably settled around 1100 B.C. by mariners arriving from the north of Africa. Cadiz, Spain, visited yesterday, is a century younger, somewhere around 1000 B.C. The city is amazingly clean and was bustling with visitors for the Semana Santa. It was Tuesday of Holy Week.

Arriving at Gibralfalo Castle, we found the tour to be on rough cobblestones, with steps unavoidable. Judy opted to wait at the entrance and enjoy the photos at a later date. The views over the city below attested to the castle’s strategic location to defend against invaders.

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Rotterdam was in view at the docks below, as was the still active bullring, with the best seat in the house being from above, although similar to a bleacher seat.

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Inside, the fortress was like a garden, although fortifications were plentiful.

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Returning by bus to the city, a recently discovered Roman theater was our next stop, obviously still in the excavation stage.

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With a unique altar including a glass-encased statue, the cathedral sits very near the grandstands erected for the Samana Santa parade (procession), as it will end there.

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Note the decorative maroon balcony hangings lining the entire route.

Leaving the tour, we joined our tapas tour right behind the grandstands. What a unique lunch we had at three different bars. Just the nine of us had more food to share than we needed, but the choices were delightful. Summer soup with seafood, snails, jamon (ham) and cheese sandwiches and others too numerous to mention. When the plates were empty, we just moved to the next bar.

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Note the jamon hanging just behind Brian (on the left), the multiple wines and liquors just behind Nick, and especially Amanda, our guide for this memorable event.

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Finding a cab back to the ship was a challenge as, by now, the streets were pedestrian only to accommodate the crowds. We missed the parade by a few hours, but we were part of the throng gathered to enjoy this unique Andalucian observance of Holy Week. How unique it is! Our legs were barely functional, and Rotterdam was a welcome sight!